Sheerwater Regeneration project: the final report

THE results of an investigation into the processes and actions taken by the council in relation to the controversial Sheerwater Regeneration project were published earlier this week.

Chairman of the Independent Sheerwater Scrutiny Panel, Claire Storey, formally submitted the final report – that analyses the period between July 2013 and December 2014 – on Tuesday.

The document will be discussed at Woking’s Full Council meeting on Thursday (October 22) when members will be required to consider the recommendations.

Ms Storey said: “This report marks the final stage of the review process, presenting the panel’s recommendations which are based on the careful scrutiny of the evidence provided by officers and councillors, New Vision Homes representatives, community stakeholders, residents, and other interested parties.

“It is now for Woking Borough Council to review and, if members decide to proceed, it is for them to put in place the recommended actions to enhance the management and delivery of the Sheerwater Regeneration project going forward.

“I would like to thank my fellow panel colleagues for their contribution and advice in an independent capacity, and all residents and interested parties who provided evidence, as well as those who attended the public hearings as observers, for their and insights.”

Council Leader John Kingsbury said that he welcomed the receipt of the report and recognised ‘the considerable effort’ taken by the panel members to ensure all issues were explored.

He added: “I have reviewed the recommendations and consider them most helpful. I hope that at our meeting on Thursday, councillors will support the actions I propose in light of the panel’s recommendations.”

The ISSP report is split into two parts. The first sets out an overview of the panel’s scrutiny findings and make recommendations to the council relating to matters they believe should be addressed and/or considered in the event that they continue with the project.

The second sets out in greater detail the panel’s reasoning for each recommendation.

It also contains further suggestions relating to the development, and others that should be considered as having a more general application to the work of the council, its officers and councillors.

The ISSP began the review on Monday, March 2, following the council’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee’s response to residents’ requests in January to investigate the processes taken by the authority with regard to the £250 million Sheerwater Regeneration project, which commenced in July 2013.

Following a report submitted to the council on February 12, members agreed to establish an independent scrutiny panel. The panel comprised the council’s Independent Co-opted Member, Chairman Claire Storey; Tim Stokes, the council’s Independent Person acting as Vice-Chair; and Michael Graham, Monitoring Officer for Reigate & Banstead Borough Council and Spelthorne Borough Council. To ensure integrity, the panel operated completely independently from the council.

Members and supporting officers had not been involved in previous works for the plans from inception until December 2014.

Visit www.woking.gov.uk/council/issp/isspreport to see the report. Residents can attend the meeting on October 22 at 7pm
in the Council Chamber at the Civic Offices, or it can be watched live online via www.woking.gov.uk/council/meetings/webcast.

Following the conclusion of the panel’s remit, enquiries about the ISSP and its report will be managed by the council’s Member Services. Send an email to member.services@woking.gov.uk or phone 01483 743863.

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